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Open-Face Dress Watch

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Open-Face Dress Watch

Artist: Ferdinand Verger (French, 1851-1928)

Retailer: Tiffany & Company (active New York, New York, 1837-present)

Date: c. 1910
Medium: Gold, platinum, enamel
Dimensions:
55.6 x 41.3 x 4.8 mm
Markings: Movement: Made for "Tiffany & Company, by Verger, France" Case: stamped trademark "FV" under fruit tree, "VERGER-FRANCE, 2711", French HM for 18K gold, cm cameo lozenge "JP" Dial: "Tiffany & Co., France"
Credit Line: Proctor Collection, Frederick T. Proctor Watch Collection
Object number: PC. 1023.20
Label Text
Even in the early twentieth century, several establishments were involved in the production and selling of a watch. The movement in this watch, for example, was made by Parisian watchmaker Ferdinand Verger; the case was decorated by an unknown Swiss enamelist who signed his initials, JP; and the finished product was sold by a New York City retailer, Tiffany & Company.

Text Entries

Even though watches continued to be decorated with enameling after 1900, both the technique and the subject matter changed. Instead of mythological subjects, floral bouquets, or portraits, enamellists turned to somewhat abstract naturalistic motifs. Transparent enamel over wither engine turning or engraving replaced painted enamels. On this watch, two cockerels, one facing right and the other pecking at the ground, are depicted in a sketchy manner as if the artist were trying to capture the essence of the birds before they moved. Their bodies are enameled in bright, bold colors- blue-green shades with contrasting red combs and yellow neck and tail feathers. The platinum bezel has been finished with a modified fretwork motif in green enamel alternating with sets of red enamel simulations of cabochon rubies.

Even in the twentieth century the watch business ran much as it had for many centuries, with multiple artisans and one retailer involved in the making and selling of the product. This watch epitomizes that practice. The movement was made by Parisian watchmaker Ferdinand Verger’ the case was decorated by an unknown enamellist who signed only his initials, JP; and the watch was sold through New York City retailer Tiffany and Company.

By the turn of the century many of the established French firms had gone out of business or had been absorbed by other companies. Verger, who registered his mark in 1896, purchased the house of Lepine from Roux in 1901. In 1911 the firm opened at 51 rue Saint Anne under the name Verger Freres.(1) When Verger liquidated his business in 1914, he sold his stock to Louis Leroy (1860-1935) but retained the trademark which he registered again in 1917. The firm served as the Paris agents for Vacheron and Constantin (active 1755 to present) and made watchcases and jewelry for the finest jewelers including Cartier (active 1847 to present), Boucheron (active 1858 to present), Osterag (active ca. 1920-40), Tiffany and Company (active 1837 to present), La cloche (active 1875-1950), and Van Cleef and Arpels (active 1906 to present).

 

1. For more information, see Antiquorum Auctioneers, L’art de l’horlogerie en France: chefs-oeuvre au XVl au XX ssiècle Auction catalogue (Geneva: Antiquorum Editions, Nov. 14, 1993), p. 598.